Sociology 102: Contemporary Social Issues
19 November 2013
Divided by Faith: Evangelicals and Race
The issue of race has been one of the largest and most ever-present societal problems in America, dating back to the nation’s founding. As race is a social construction, the issue has adapted and changed vastly over the last two-hundred years, yet still remains extremely prevalent in society today. In Divided by Faith, authors Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith delve into the issue of race in the present day United States. Specifically, the authors target Protestant Evangelism and how white Evangelical principles have exacerbated, and continue to exacerbate the racial divide in America. ...view middle of the document...
However, Evangelicals do not attribute these problems to the institutional set up that puts people in these positions, they blame the individual for committing the sin. Growing up around Evangelicals, I thought this was the perfect way to describe how their tactics tend to have the opposite effect of what they intended.
My favorite idea in the book was a very basic one, but one that the book describes perfectly. We no longer live in a segregated society, but we do live in a racialized one. A racialized society is one in which “race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships” (Emerson and Smith, 7). I have always known this to be true, but this was the best way I had seen it put in to words. On the other hand, there were some things in the book I didn’t necessarily agree with. The biggest thing I disagreed with was the authors’ assertion that the Bible continues to separate the races. The book describes how there are Bible verses that promote slavery, and that these verses continue to have an impact on Evangelical thinking. While I don’t doubt that there are people who take the Bible very literally, I do doubt that there are more than a few people that still believe that African-Americans should be enslaved by whites. I also wish the book was written more recently than 2000. It is still very relevant, but it would be interesting to see how things would have changed over the last decade.
One of the things I did like best about this book was how relatable it was to things I’ve seen in my life. I grew up in an almost all-white community, one that was filled with Evangelicals. Growing up in that environment, I had seen the Evangelical mindset up close, but I had never thought about analyzing it before. I think, as the book mentions, the biggest problem with the Evangelical principles is that they believe we are living in a “colorblind society”. Because I am of color, and all of my friends are white, I noticed this all too much in my childhood. Many white people don’t think they have to fix the racial divide, because they don’t think there...